\ ˈfərst How to pronounce first (audio) \

Definition of first

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: preceding all others in time, order, or importance: such as
a : earliest She won first prize. his first girlfriend
b : being the lowest forward gear or speed of a motor vehicle couldn't get the car out of first gear
c : having the highest or most prominent part among a group of similar voices or instruments first violins



Definition of first (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : before another in time, space, or importance
b : in the first place often used with of all
c : for the first time
2 : in preference to something else : sooner



Definition of first (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : one that is number one in a series — see Table of Numbers
2 : something that is first: such as
a : the first occurrence or item of a kind
b : the first forward gear or speed of a motor vehicle
c : the highest or chief voice or instrument of a group
d : an article of commerce of the finest grade
e : the winning or highest place in a competition, examination, or contest
at first
: at the beginning : initially

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Synonyms & Antonyms for first

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of first in a Sentence

Adjective We sat in the first row. She succeeded on her first attempt. I still remember the first time I saw her. Adverb I have to pay him first. These problems are not as simple as they first appear. I loved her when I first saw her. This word was first recorded in the 19th century. We'll get started soon, but first we have to make sure everyone is here. Noun Her solo flight across the Atlantic was a remarkable first. They were responsible for several engineering firsts. I couldn't get the car out of first. take a first in English
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The 20-year-old Franco tripled in his first at-bat Monday at Fenway Park. Creg Stephenson |, al, 8 Sep. 2021 In all, 19 first run titles has signed up to date for the Virtual Screening Room. John Hopewell, Variety, 8 Sep. 2021 The very first blue plaque was placed in 1867 Cavendish Square at the home where the poet Lord Byron was born. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, 8 Sep. 2021 Morton went face-first into wooden bleachers while chasing down a wayward ball. Dave Melton,, 8 Sep. 2021 In 2015, Zack Greinke of the Dodgers took second and teammate Clayton Kershaw third while Jake Arrieta of the Cubs won the award, and that one was closer, with Arrieta getting 17 first-place votes and Greinke getting 10, with Kershaw three. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8 Sep. 2021 Then a leaf turns yellow, the first chill of September arrives, and nature laughs. Anne Saker, The Enquirer, 8 Sep. 2021 Jim Loomis lives in Hawaii, so the first 3,000 miles of any trip has to be by air. Julia Ries, Condé Nast Traveler, 7 Sep. 2021 Georgia received four first-place votes after beating Clemson 10-3 in the opening weekend’s top game. San Francisco Chronicle, 7 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The misinformation network was first discovered in June 2019, focused mainly on attacking the pro-democracy protests taking place in Hong Kong. Emma Woollacott, Forbes, 9 Sep. 2021 This is a story of desperation, anger, poverty—and triumph over long odds to crack the code of a degenerative disease that had been stealing the lives of children since it was first discovered more than a century ago. Brady Huggett, Scientific American, 8 Sep. 2021 The Nipah virus was first discovered in Malaysia and Singapore in 1999 after multiple pigs and people became sick, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY, 7 Sep. 2021 The dinosaur lived in what is now modern North America and is believed to have died in an ancient flood in South Dakota — which is where geologist Walter W. Stein Bill first discovered one of the bones in May 2014, per CNN and Reuters. Abigail Adams,, 3 Sep. 2021 That’s when farmer Grant Elliott first discovered the variety growing in his orchard, according to Pyne Farms, an Orem orchard that sells the variety. Kathy Stephenson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Aug. 2021 The piece was first discovered in 1877 in the Kimberley Mines of South Africa, and purchased by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1878. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, 23 Aug. 2021 Pink salmon were first discovered in Lake Erie in 1979, and have been recorded during the fall spawning season in the eastern Ohio tributaries. cleveland, 19 Aug. 2021 The secretary of state's office began investigating the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder's office on Monday, when staff members first discovered a video online showing login credentials for voting machines. Paul P. Murphy And Jeremy Harlan, CNN, 12 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In fact, earlier this year, the Air Force revealed its secret new fighter jet will have an R2-D2-style sidekick, similar to the AI that operated a U-2 spy plane in an historic first. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 29 Apr. 2021 Outbreaks have ravaged long-term care facilities in Europe and North America, adding to the sense of urgency in protecting the elderly first. Washington Post, 14 Jan. 2021 The New York approach is consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and what other jurisdictions are doing to get vaccines to health care workers and the elderly first. Tyler Olson, Fox News, 5 Jan. 2021 The Athletic first reported that Minnesota is expected to sign Trapp after free agency starts Dec. 16. Khobi Price,, 9 Dec. 2020 Bids came from in-person and online, where the auction was broadcast for some 200 buyers (a fair first). Pat Stoetzer,, 8 Aug. 2020 Second baseman Cavan Biggio grabbed it and tried to dive glove-first at the bag, but was edged out by runner Andrew Stevenson. Howard Fendrich, Star Tribune, 29 July 2020 The Athletic first reported that owners rejected the union proposal. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 3 June 2020 This comes at a time of many firsts throughout the tropics. Taylor Ward, CNN, 15 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'first.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of first


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for first

Adjective, Adverb, and Noun

Middle English, from Old English fyrst; akin to Old High German furist first, Old English faran to go — more at fare

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Learn More About first

Time Traveler for first

Time Traveler

The first known use of first was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near first



first aid

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Statistics for first

Last Updated

11 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“First.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for first



English Language Learners Definition of first

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: coming before all others in time, order, or importance
used to refer to the lowest forward gear or speed of a vehicle
: having or playing the main part in a group of instruments



English Language Learners Definition of first (Entry 2 of 3)

: before any other in time, order, or importance
: for the first time
: before doing other things



English Language Learners Definition of first (Entry 3 of 3)

: an occurrence, achievement, etc., that happens or exists before any other of that kind
: the position of the winner in a competition or contest
: the lowest forward gear or speed of a car, truck, etc.


\ ˈfərst How to pronounce first (audio) \

Kids Definition of first

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: coming before all others in time, order, or importance first prize first base



Kids Definition of first (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : before any other I reached the goal first.
2 : for the first time We first met at a party.



Kids Definition of first (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : number one in a series
2 : something or someone that comes before all others Her perfect score was a first for the school.
3 : the winning place in a competition
at first
: in the beginning I hated dance lessons at first.

More from Merriam-Webster on first

Nglish: Translation of first for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of first for Arabic Speakers


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